Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1983: My First Real Film

I've had some more old negatives scanned. What you're looking at here are three frames taken when I got my first "real" camera, a Canon AE-1. This was Christmas, 1983, and I took the photos at my grandmother's house outside Washington, D.C.

I'd already had a camera for years -- the dreaded Magimatic, which took square, invariably fuzzy, terrible pictures. But I'd also used my dad's (a Minolta, I think?), and I'd taken photography classes both at summer camp and in youth programs at the University of South Florida. So I knew what a real camera could do, and I'd longed for one.

The Canon was a present from my mom -- my dad may have chipped in for it too, though I honestly can't remember.

After unwrapping it (and the camera bag and film and other stuff that I got with it), I went out into my grandmother's yard and took photos of the dry, brown pods on her rose-of-sharon (top) and the ice crystals on the roof of her Oldsmobile (middle).

Then I came inside and photographed the glassware in her living room windows. (I always loved that red vase, and I had it for years after she died in 1989. After I moved to New York in 2000, I gave it to my brother, who still displays it -- as well as the blue glass in the photo above -- on a windowsill in his house.)

Anyway, aside from these three shots, I was always disappointed with this first roll of film. The rest of it, quite frankly, is crap -- underexposed pictures of dewdrops and blurry pictures of dead leaves. But I guess that's to be expected when you're learning a new camera, right?


  1. I think that those three pictures are very fine, especially for your first roll of real film. A foreshadowing of things to come from you!
    And isn't digital wonderful in the way it is so easy to discard that which is not good enough? To be able to look at what you've just shot and correct immediately is amazing.

  2. I love that glassware! It's so bright & cheerful.

    I joined the photography club in high school. I don't remember anything at all except for being annoyed that it was so hard to manage the film in the dark (I was learning to develop it). I don't even remember taking photographs. Apparently I wasn't all that impressed with myself :)

  3. These photos are quite impressive. When I was about 20 years old an photography instructor once told me that you will get one good shot out at least 60 shots taken. I remember being discouraged by that statement because film and processing wasn't cheap. Now with digital photography, I can snap away until I get exactly what I want. It makes me be much more experimental than I ever was before.

  4. I love that first shot! Good job for learning a new camera. Also, I love the glassware in the window. My mom had a red vase exactly like that. I'm not sure if I have it packed in a box downstairs or that was one my sister took home with her. Now I'll have to look!

  5. The collection of glassware is beautiful and makes me feel nostalgic. And I'm glad you explained the pictures because the second pic gave me the willies. But when you revealed that it was frost on the hood of a car, no more willies. I think you should keep even some of the pics that didn't come out well if only for the sake of seeing a progression, a before and after, a then and now.

  6. They're wonderful of course. Fun to look at them. I wonder how many pictures you've taken since then? It boggles the mind.

  7. Ms Moon: Digital is amazing. I have never understood how people can be nostalgic for film.

    Bug: Managing film in a darkroom can be a nightmare! Another reason to go digital! :)

    Jiryu: Thanks! So glad to see you here! Hope all is well back in NYC and with the VZ!

    Sharon: That's an interesting ratio. I'm not sure what he defines as a "good shot," but I'd like to think mine are a little more frequent than that! I do not miss film at all.

    Lynne: That red vase is actually quite common -- I think it was made by Anchor Hocking and is called ruby glass, or something like that.

    Nancy: The window glass is very grandmothery, isn't it? One of the reasons I wanted to have this entire roll scanned is just as you said -- to see the bad stuff as well as the good. I find my old bad pictures kind of intriguing -- like, what was I looking at? What was I trying to do?

    Reya: Oh, god, I wouldn't even want to try to guess! And the vast majority since I went digital in 2006, no doubt.

  8. Beautiful images. You always had an eye, even when you were learning the camera. The eye though can't be taught.